Eighty percent (80%) of people will experience lower back pain at some stage of their life. It is one of the most common reasons for people missing work and seeing a doctor or physiotherapist. But lower back pain is something you can avoid with some inside knowledge, back care strategies and some back exercises.
However, if you choose to neglect your back care, you can be rendered vulnerable to lower back pain, sciatica (leg pain) or other nerve pain from a pinched nerve. Long-term lower back pain can result in permanent conditions such as spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease.
Significant acute lower back pain can result from a herniated disc (slipped disc), back muscle pain, back ligament strain or a non-specific lower back pain.
You can also suffer lower back pain associated with systemic conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.
As you can see while lower back pain is common, the diagnosis is specific to you and is best care for with the assistance of a spinal health care such as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist.
Not only can they assist you with acute back pain relief, they can also help you on your way to long-term self management and prevention. This usually includes a thorough back assessment to determine risk factors such and muscle weakness, inflexibility, stiff or unstable joints. They can also advise you when a back brace is suitable or if you are better advised to perform some specific back exercises.
Real-time ultrasound has been used by back pain research in recent years to assist the diagnosis and successful treatment of lower back pain. Real-time ultrasound is now available at leading physiotherapy clinics to assist you and your back pain relief and prevention.
For more information please contact us, your trusted spinal health care practitioner. You’ve only got one back – isn’t it about time you cared for it correctly?
Lower Back Pain Causes
Lower back pain has many causes. Most lower back pain causes are musculoskeletal in origin and known as non-specific low back pain. Most commonly, these back injuries are caused by muscular strains, ligament sprains and joint dysfunction, particularly when pain arises suddenly during or following physical loading of the spine.
The good news is that you can take measures to prevent or lessen most back pain episodes. Your physiotherapist is an expert who treats and can help you to prevent low back pain.
Early diagnosis and treatment is the easiest way to recover quickly from lower back pain and to prevent a recurrence.
The causes of lower back pain are numerous but roughly fall into either a sudden (traumatic) or sustained overstress injuries.
Most people can relate to traumatic injury such as bending awkwardly to lift a heavy load that tears or damages structures. However, sustained overstress injuries are probably more common but also easier to prevent.
In these cases, normally positional stress or postural fatigue creates an accumulated microtrauma that overloads your lower back structures over an extended period of time to cause injury and back pain.
Common Lower Back Pain Causes
Back Muscle Strains
Back muscle injuries are the most common form of back injury. Muscle fatigue, excessive loads or poor lifting postures are the most common problems. Inefficient back muscles can lead to poor joint stabilisation and subsequent injury
Ligaments are the strong fibrous bands that limit the amount of movement at available at each spinal level. Stretching ligaments too far or too quickly will tear them with subsequent bleeding into the surrounding tissues, causing swelling and pain. Awkward lifting, sports injuries and motor vehicle accidents are very common causes. Just as in other regions of the body, physiotherapy hastens ligament healing and relieves pain so that you can enjoy life again as soon as possible.
A bulging disc injury is a common spine injury sustained to your spine’s intervertebral disc. Spinal discs are the shock-absorbing rings of fibrocartilage and glycoprotein that separate your bony vertebral bodies, while allowing movement at each spinal level, and enough room for the major spinal nerves to exit from the spinal canal and travel to your limbs.
The annulus is the outer section of the spinal disc, consisting of several layers of multi-directional fibrocartilaginous fibres all densely packed to create a wall around the glycoprotein filled jelly-like disc nucleus. A disc bulge (commonly referred to as slipped disc), can potentially press against or irritate the nerve where it exits from the spine. This nerve pinch can cause back pain, spasms, cramping, numbness, pins and needles, or pain into your legs.
You can also fracture your spine if the force involved is highly traumatic or you have low bone density (eg osteoporosis).
Poor posture when sitting, standing and lifting at work can place unnecessary stress upon your spine. Muscles fatigue, ligaments overstretch, discs stretch and this places spinal joints and nerves under pain-causing pressure.
Lower Back Pain Treatment
With accurate assessment and early treatment, most lower back pain injuries will respond extremely quickly to physiotherapy allowing you to quickly resume pain-free and normal activities of daily living.
Please ask you physiotherapist for their professional treatment advice.
While lower back pain treatment will vary depending on your specific diagnosis, your physiotherapist will have the following aims.
PHASE I – Back Pain Relief & Protection
PHASE II – Restoring Normal ROM and Strength. Early Back Exercises.
PHASE III – Restoring Full Function
PHASE IV – Back Exercises – Preventing a Recurrence
Lower Back Pain Exercises
With the correct lower back pain exercises and specific treatment guided by your physiotherapist, back pain relief is very achievable. Most severe lower back pain sufferers will recover within 4 to 6 weeks. However, this time can vary greatly as it depends on the nature of your back injury, the treatment plan that you develop with your physiotherapist, and how compliant you are with your treatment and lower back pain exercises.
Please ask your physiotherapist for their advice in what will help you most.
How Can You Prevent Lower Back Pain?
While there are no guarantees, it is well known that active individuals who regularly exercise to maintain normal flexibility and muscle strength to support their spine have the best chance of avoiding lower back pain.
Healthy spine postures and safe lifting techniques at home and at work also reduce your risk of developing lower back pain. Feel free to discuss with your physiotherapist the specific postures and activities that you perform on a daily basis. They will aim to help you to understand how to position yourself and move with the lowest risk of injury